The New Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield EZ: First Impressions

Luke C.
by Luke C.
M&P 9 Shield EZ – One Model is available with an integrated crimson trace laser

In the last couple of weeks TFB was able to get an exclusive look at Smith & Wesson’s latest offering to the concealed carry market: The Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield EZ. This new offering from Smith & Wesson seeks to upgrade the firepower of the previously released M&P 380 Shield EZ.

M&P 9 Shield EZ

The new M&P 9 Shield EZ brings over all the characteristics of the 380 Shield EZ and combines it with the superior firepower that the 9x19mm cartridge has to offer. Smith & Wesson generously brought me out to their headquarters in Springfield, Massachusetts for a full tour of their production facility as well as a demo of their new products which included the M&P 9 Shield EZ. We’ll take a brief look at my first impressions of the gun here and I’ll follow up later with a more thorough review of the gun after some tougher testing.

M&P 9 Shield EZ

M&P 9 Shield EZ Specifications

  • Caliber: 9mm Luger
  • Action: Internal Hammer Fire
  • Capacity: 8+1
  • Barrel Length: 3.675″
  • Front Sight: White Dot
  • Rear Sight: White Dot adjustable for Windage
  • Frame Width: 1.04″
  • Overall Height: 5.05″
  • Overall Length: 6.85″
  • Sight Radius: 5.875″
  • Finish: Armornite
  • Features: Grip Safety, 2 Easy Load Magazines, Reversible Magazine Release, Picatinny Rail

M&P 9 Shield EZ: First Look

I got to examine all three configurations of the 9mm Shield EZ. Keeping in mind that the Shield EZ is intended for shooters with less grip strength and perhaps less shooting experience, the first thing I noticed is that some versions of the new shield EZ come with manual safeties and also integrated lasers.

M&P 9 Shield EZ

While personally, I am a fan of neither manual safeties or lasers in any of my carry guns, I can understand the reasoning behind the addition of one or both of these features into a carry gun. Some people may enjoy the increased confidence of an integrated laser or the added layer of safety or comfort that a manual safety offers. I think that more options are always better as a new shooter can find what works well for them or an experienced shooter can select desirable options for their situation.

M&P 9 Shield EZ

The new M&P 9 Shield EZ carries over nearly all of the M&P 2.0 characteristics including the improved forward and rear slide serrations. The M&P 2.0 Subcompact I reviewed recently didn’t really do much for me when it came to the forward slide serrations and I had hoped they might be bigger since there really isn’t enough of the forward serrations to get a good grip on. However, with the 9 Shield EZ, this is no problem since the slide is incredibly easy to rack.

Shooting

At the event, we were able to shoot all the styles of the M&P 9 Shield EZ. There were no significant differences between the overall shooting characteristics between them as you would expect. We shot both 124 grain and 115 grain Federal Syntech ammunition through the guns and the biggest difference in experience between the 9mm and 380 EZ is, in fact, the ammunition.

M&P 9 Shield EZ - Smith & Wesson provided both 124 grain and 115 grain Federal Syntech Ammunition for our introductory test firing

With such a light platform, there is a noticeable increase in recoil and muzzle flip from the 9mm, especially with the 124-grain loadings. I have yet to shoot any self-defense ammunition through the gun but I expect increased recoil again as you would with any self-defense handgun ammunition.

The grip safety accomplishes two great things. First, it ensures that the gun cannot be fired without a positive grip on the firearm. The grip safety is easy to activate but also needs to be fully depressed to allow the trigger to travel rearward. Secondly, the placement of the safety is such that it will inevitably train new shooters to have a high grip which will both decrease muzzle flip and provide a more stable grip on the firearm.

M&P 9 Shield EZ - The 9mm EZ with the grip safety in full view.

I shot roughly 150-200 rounds of Federal Syntech ammunition through several different models of the M&P 9 Shield EZ and experienced no malfunctions, I even tried to induce a stovepipe malfunction in the gun by having an extremely weak grip and the gun continued to cycle flawlessly. I did have a little trouble with the models that had a thumb safety. My hands are somewhat large and I often inadvertently activated the thumb safety several times while shooting. I will test this more in my full field report to see if it becomes a long-standing issue.

First impression Conclusions

I only got to spend about 3 to 4 hours with the handgun during the event but I spent plenty of time testing out the various features on each model. I will say that the New M&P 9 Shield EZ does take the standard components and characteristics of a concealed carry pistol and makes them accessible to everyone.

M&P 9 Shield EZ

To put it in perspective, racking the slide on the 9mm EZ didn’t seem any more difficult than the 380 EZ. It’s about as difficult as racking the slide on a .22 caliber pistol like the M&P 22 Compact. The takedown is simple and requires no tools, they’ve further reduced the size of the takedown lever which now sits flush with the frame. The magazines are extremely easy to load with the assisted loading mechanism which is similar to some rimfire magazines. It allows you to use your off-hand to depress the magazine spring and simply drop each successive round in.

A few Wishes

To preface this portion of the first impressions review I’ll say this. Most of you reading this will probably be experienced shooters like me. This firearm clearly isn’t designed for Tier-1 Operators. What this gun does great is provide a simple, easy to conceal, easy to shoot and easy to load self-defense platform for those of us who are less experienced or lack the hand strength to perform most operations on a standard handgun.

If I had a choice the first thing I would swap out would be the sights. Night sights are a good upgrade for any level of shooting experience but they also carry an extra cost. That may not be something a new shooter will want to spend money on right away. The second would probably be to have the full M&P 2.0 grip texture. While the M&P 2.0 grip texture can indeed rub your skin raw, it also provides you with an incredible grip which is a huge plus for me in the sweaty southern heat.

Field Report: soon

These are just my first impressions of this new pistol from Smith & Wesson. Smith & Wesson has sent me a model with a thumb safety for review which I am going to run through its paces to see what it’s made of. I think what Smith & Wesson has done here is great. With the Stack and a Half market being swarmed with new products it’s good to see that someone is looking out for new shooters and those who maybe need a bit of assistance to defend themselves.

M&P 9 Shield EZ

The new M&P 9 Shield EZ should be available in stores this weekend (December 14th, 2019). The base models with or without the thumb safety will retail for $479 MSRP. If you’re looking to get a model with or without thumb safety and the crimson trace laser retail that will be $575 MSRP.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on the new M&P 9 Shield EZ. What do you like and not like about it? Based on this first impression would you recommend this gun to a shooter with weaker hand strength or perhaps a new shooter? Let us know down in the comments. I hope to see you back here soon for my full field report.

M&P 9 Shield EZ

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Luke C.
Luke C.

Reloader SCSA Competitor Certified Pilot Currently able to pass himself off as the second cousin twice removed of Joe Flanigan. Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ballisticaviation/

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